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Racism and the Collapsing Society, Barbara Love and Tim Jackins, June 7, 2020

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Ending Racism on Campus

This summer and fall I led two RC fundamentals classes for people taking leadership to end racism on our campus. One was for student leaders. Another RC colleague, Mallory Garnett, assisted with that. The other was for faculty, staff, and administrator leaders, and Hannah Ashley, also an RC colleague, assisted with that one.

We taught RC fundamentals in the context of ending racism. People were more enthusiastic than we had imagined and were consistent about class attendance and Co-Counseling sessions. As we wrapped up1 the fall cycle, many said their participation in the classes had changed their lives.

This Friday, Barbara Love2 led a wonderful workshop for the participants in both classes. We also included four RC colleagues from nearby campuses—Carmin Bermudez, Charlotte Jacobs, Victor Donnay, and Mike Reichert. There were twenty people at the workshop. Those in our fundamentals classes benefited tremendously from Barbara’s leadership and also from their connections with the other experienced RC colleagues.

Barbara started the day on using RC for our personal lives and well-being. She used the analogy of how at the beginning of airplane flights, the attendants show how to use the oxygen masks and say that one should secure one’s own mask before attempting to help others. She emphasized that using RC for ourselves builds the base for changing the world. This was a useful frame, particularly for a group of people already committed to changing the world.

She then shifted to how to use RC to work on racism. She had us do one mini-session in which we were to tell early memories connected to race and racism and followed that with another mini-session, in the same pairs, in which we were to notice the feelings about those early memories. I found that strategy very effective, particularly for a group fairly new to RC. It helped people move from telling details of the memories to crying, shaking, and otherwise releasing the associated feelings.

Barbara is an expert at communicating sophisticated information about RC and ending racism while also reviewing basic concepts so that newer people do not get lost. She had us do lots of mini-sessions in which people could try RC in different ways for themselves. She also made room for questions, which she answered clearly. We ended the morning with a three-way session.

After lunch Barbara gave a talk on ending racism that was open to our whole university campus. We publicized it as a United to End Racism3 event and had United to End Racism flyers there. With the weather forecast calling for a major snowstorm, our university closed just before the talk was scheduled to begin. But even with the closing, over two hundred people came.

Barbara started with a mini-session in which she had people talk about their vision of what a campus and world without racism would look like. People were crying in that mini. Throughout her talk, and in answering questions, she addressed difficult issues related to racism and internalized racism while holding out a hopeful perspective about the possibilities for healing from and ending racism and other oppressions.

After her talk, the RC workshop resumed. With campus already closed and snowflakes starting to fall, we decided to end before dinner instead of continuing through the evening. Barbara asked the participants what they wanted to be sure we covered and then skillfully addressed the key issues in less than two hours. She had the experienced RC colleagues from other campuses share how they were using RC, talked about the intersection of racism and sexism and the media’s tendency to erase Black women and portray Black men with a hypersexualized masculinity, and counseled several people in front of the group. The workshop took participants to a new level in their practice of RC and their understanding of how to use it in their lives as a base for the work they’re doing to end racism.

Our plan for spring is to continue with the classes—with the student group and the faculty and staff group sometimes meeting together and sometimes separately. We have framed the project as a pilot for what we’d like to do more broadly on campus and are hoping there will be another phase in the fall.

I’m thrilled that these people taking leadership to end racism on our campus now know RC fundamentals and understand something about the emotional work necessary to end racism. I’m honored that this group of almost all people of the global majority has been willing to engage in this project with me. I am grateful to be working with Mallory and Hannah on an ongoing basis and grateful that Barbara was willing to come lead this workshop and move our project forward. I am also grateful to have all of you RC colleagues behind me and with me as I stretch to see what’s possible. Many challenges lie ahead, but I’m pleased with what we’ve tried so far.

I think this is a particularly important time in history to be using what we understand in RC to support wide-world efforts to end racism. As colleagues we are in a unique position to do this. I know about the wonderful work some of you are doing. I encourage all of you to write about how you are using RC on your campus and in your work, particularly in ending racism.

With love and respect,

Ellie Brown

International Liberation Reference Person for College and University Faculty

Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of college and university faculty

(Present Time 183, April 2016)

1 “Wrapped up” means finished.
2 Barbara Love is the RC International Liberation Reference Person for African-Heritage People and Professor Emeritus of Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA.
3 United to End Racism is a project of the RC Communities in which Co-Counselors bring what we’ve learned in RC about ending racism to wide-world activists working to end racism.

Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00